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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup chit-chat: Broken Neymar still dreams of being champion

World Cup chit-chat: Broken Neymar still dreams of being champion

Last updated on: July 06, 2014 14:59 IST

World Cup chit-chat: Broken Neymar still dreams of being champion

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Injured Brazil forward Neymar thanked fans for their support on Saturday and said his teammates will do everything to keep his dream of winning the World Cup alive.

"My dream isn't over. It was interrupted by a play but it continues," Neymar, who has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a fractured vertebra, said in a video released by the Brazilian Soccer Federation.

"I'm certain that my teammates will do everything possible so that my dream, which is to be a champion, comes true.

"My dream was also to play in a World Cup final but this time it didn't work out," the 22-year-old said, his voice cracking with emotion.

"But God willing, they're going to win this, they're going to be champions, and I’m going to be by their side, with them. And all us Brazilians are going to be celebrating."

Neymar, who scored four goals in the tournament, suffered the back injury during Friday's 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia. Brazil will play Germany in the semi-finals on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte.

Globo TV, the country's most popular network, broadcast Neymar's message during a live variety show on Saturday. The crowd gave it a standing ovation and many were in tears.

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Image: Brazil's Neymar is seen inside a medical helicopter at the Granja Comary training center, on July 05, 2014 in Teresopolis, Brazil. Neymar will be treated at home for his back injury.
Photographs: Heuler Andrey/Mowa Press via Getty Images

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Neymar might be able to attend the semi-final against Germany match as a fan

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Neymar was strapped to a stretcher on Saturday when he was loaded into a helicopter to fly from the team's training base to his home on the coast near Sao Paulo.

But he was sitting and appeared to be comfortable in the video, and Brazil's team doctor said Neymar might be able to attend Tuesday's match as a fan.

"It will all depend on his pain," Jose Luiz Runco told reporters.

"If he's without pain and comfortable, nothing is forbidden and nothing will compromise his recovery. He just has to be seated, and comfortable with airplane travel."

Runco said recovery should be complete within 45 days, and that Neymar would be able to sit and walk in the meantime.

Several dozen fans gathered outside the forward's home in Guaruja to welcome him back, many carrying signs that said "Strength, Neymar."

His father came outside and applauded, giving the crowd a thumbs-up.

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Image: Neymar
Photographs: Neymar Jr/Facebook

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Argentine hooligan who posed as Swiss fan arrested at World Cup

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An Argentine hooligan who entered Brazil illegally and appeared at World Cup games disguised as a Swiss fan was arrested on Saturday at the Argentina-Belgium game, Brazilian officials said.

Pablo Alvarez, leader of the fan club of Argentina's Independiente soccer club, was on a list of 2,000 Argentine fans with a record of violence at soccer matches who were banned from entering Brazil for the World Cup.

Alvarez defied police by attending Argentina games dressed as a Swiss fan and then posting photos of himself on Facebook, face painted red-and-white and wearing a Switzerland scarf.

Argentine police officers monitoring their country's fans at Saturday's game spotted him with binoculars wearing a shirt of Brazil's most popular soccer club Flamengo and alerted Brazilian police who arrested him pending deportation to Argentina.

So far 40 Argentine fans with records of hooliganism as members of Argentina's violence-prone "barras bravas" fan clubs have been deported thanks to enhanced police cooperation during the World Cup that has led to the capture of five foreign criminals, Brazil's federal police said.

Some 15,000 Argentina fans watched their team led by star forward Lionel Messi defeat Belgium 1-0 in Brasilia and go through to the semifinals.

After the game, Argentine fans almost came to blows with Brazilian fans who taunted them outside the stadium by chanting that their soccer legend Pelé was greater than Argentina's idol Diego Maradona. Riot police separated them.

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Image: An Argentina fan holds up a Gonzalo Higuain shirt
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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Nigerian federation voted out of office as FIFA ban looms

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Nigeria’s football federation were voted out of office on Saturday after being accused of botching up the country’s World Cup campaign but it is unlikely FIFA will recognise the hastily-arranged elections as anything more than a coup d’etat.

An extraordinary general assembly of the federation went ahead in Abuja on Saturday despite FIFA’s warning of a possible suspension for the African nation if it did not restore the old leadership to power.

A regional high court had earlier this week ordered the dismissal of the  Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) executive, just over a day after the Super Eagles were eliminated from the World Cup by France in the last-16 on Monday.

The court also mandated the sports minister to appoint a caretaker administrator, who swiftly called new elections.

NFF president Aminu Maigari was also detained by police on Friday on his arrival back from Brazil but later released.

FIFA said on Friday that if the NFF leadership were not restored to their posts by next Tuesday the country could be suspended from all international football activities.

It warned against outside interference in the running of its member associations.

But Saturday’s assembly endorsed the sacking of Maigari and his executive and the termination of the employment of all management staff at the NFF.

“The Congress bemoaned the unfortunate incident of the international embarrassment caused by failure of the Aminu Maigari–led NFF to fully and firmly resolve issues of finance with the Super Eagles ahead of the championship,” a statement obtained by Reuters said afterwards.

Nigerian players were involved in strike action after winning through their opening round group to the last 16 at the World Cup in Brazil but resumed training after Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan had spoken to several senior players by telephone and assured them their bonus money would be paid.

There is no clarity about who or why the court order seeking the dismantling of the NFF was brought but the swiftness of the injunction, the call for new elections and the assembling of the NFF electorate suggested a well orchestrated putsch.

African governments for decades dictated the leadership of their individual football associations until FIFA brought in the sanction of suspension for those interfering.

Drastic changes like those affected by Nigeria are now rare but fellow World Cup finalists Cameroon are being run by a ‘normalisation committee’ after their old executive was drummed out of office and their federation president jailed on fraud charges.

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Image: Peter Odemwingie of Nigeria (centre) celebrates scoring his team's first goal with teammates against Bosnia-Herzegovina
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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